MUSIC BOX October 2009
MIKA MAGIC Britney Spears LADY GAGA
“Bad Romance” Debut
Courts Controversy as Sexy New Single “3 ” Hits Radio
MUSIC BOX October
THIS MONTH... 6 Cd Reviews Archive 8 Britney Spears Courts Controversy as Sexy New Single “3 ” Hits Radio 10 Mika On His New Album, Non-Idols, and Possible Upcoming Hugh Jackman Collaboration 13 Lady Gaga “Bad Romance” Debuts at Alexander McQueen Show 14 P!nk October 5, 2009 / New York (Madison Square Garden) 16 Beyonce Wins Two MOBO Awards 17 Michael Jackson Was Healthy 18 Kylie Minogue Kicks Off First U.S. Tour 5
CD REVIEWS ARCHIVE
Tokio Hotel HUMANOID
Miranda Lamber REVOLUTION
What did Bill Kaulitz do with his charisma? With his over-the-top goth-pop vocals — and even more baroque hairspray-and-mascara styling — the 20-year-old singer has made this German band one of Europe's most popular and irresistible groups. But on Humanoid, he sounds strangely reduced. In part, it's a question of hooks: With the exception of "Hey You" and "World Behind My Wall," the album is melodically anemic and strangely low-key. Subtle is not a mode that suits Kaulitz — just check the coiffure.
With her third record, Miranda Lambert remains country's most refreshing act, and not just because she makes firearms seem like a matter-of-fact female accessory. The playlist is her most varied yet: "Airstream Song" is a string-band dropout fantasy that includes a nod to fellow "red-dirt girl" Emmylou Harris, while a redneck-surrealist cover of John Prine's "That's the Way That the World Goes 'Round" rocks enough to get the girl booked at Lollapalooza. Lambert's Second Amendment talk goes beyond posturing: "Time to Get a Gun" (by Fred Eaglesmith) is more about working-class powerlessness than being trigger-happy. And on "Maintain the Pain," she shoots her car radio. Hey, Nashville: What d'ya think she's sayin' there?
Muse THE RESISTANCE
Sean Paul IMPERIAL BLAZE
Many art rockers have symphonic pretensions, but it takes gumption to compose a "symphony." Enter Muse: The British trio's fifth album closes with "Exogenesis: Symphony," a three-part suite full of grandiose orchestral swells and lyrical koans like "Why are we? Who are we?" Muse's humongous cresting and tumbling songs have earned them a massive cult following, along with criticism that the band sounds a little too much like its heroes. (Frontman Matthew Bellamy has a serious Thom Yorke fixation.) Songs like the industrial-flavored "Uprising" prove again that Muse know how to whip up an almighty roar. But the lyrics are pompous doggerel ("Coercive notions re-evolve/A universe is trapped inside a tear"), and they borrow shamelessly from Radiohead and Queen without the former's musical invention or the latter's cheeky swagger. Ultimately, The Resistance is a patchwork of expert clichés that leaves a listener wondering just what the point of Muse is. Why are they? Who are they?
Sean Paul has been as ubiquitous as oxygen for much of the 2000s, and he seems maniacally determined to maintain his pop dominance. Paul said in 2007 that his next disc would focus on youth violence in Jamaica, but there's little sign of that on the party-hearty Imperial Blaze, which is full of snazzy electro beats and tunes that sound like pale versions of past hits. Songs like the lascivious "Bruk Out" — where Paul orders his lady to "spread it" for him "like a queensize sheet" — are just too slick to be much fun.
BRITNEY SPEARS Courts Controversy as Sexy New Single “3 ” Hits Radio
ritney Spears’ new single “3″ — the sole fresh song off her upcoming best-of compilation The Singles Collection — debuted this week on New York Top 40 station Z100, and yes, in the spirit of Jane’s Addiction’s “Three Days,” the song is about having a threesome. Spears has never been shy about courting controversy, and this song will likely receive plenty of it. “3″ is yet another product of producer Max Martin, the Swedish pop savant who also gave the world Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” and Spears’ “If U Seek Amy,” so a track about ménage à trois would be the feasible next step in his repertoire. The music itself seems to borrow from the Flo Rida playbook, as “3″ is more of a surefire dance-floor stomper than anything Brit loaded onto Blackout or Circus. “Merrier the more, triple fun that way,” Spears sings in one of the many, many innuendo-packed lyrics that seem like they were spawned from Prince’s Dirty Mind-era brain. There’s also “Three is a charm, two is not the same. I don’t see the harm, so are you game?” and “If you don’t like the company, let’s just do it you and me. You and me… Or three… Or four…” The song also boasts the strangest Peter, Paul and Mary reference we’ve ever heard. As Rolling Stone previously reported, The Singles Collection is due out November 24th, just in time for Black Friday. Singles will be Brit’s third greatest hits compilation in four years, following 2005’s My Prerogative and 2006’s B in
The Boy Who Knew Too Much
Mika on His New Album, Non-Idols, and Possible Upcoming Hugh Jackman Collaboration
is 2007 debut album, Life in Cartoon Motion, introduced Michael Penniman, a.k.a. Mika, to the world as a classically trained pop star with accessible dance hits like "Grace Kelly" and "Lollipop." But while Cartoon mused on childhood innocence, The Boy Who Knew Too Much — his sophomore effort, out this week — picks up where that record left off, as a swelling, rock-operatic ode to teenagerdom. The Lebanon-born, London-based Brit was in town recently and spoke to Vulture about Boy, his songwriting, and his possible involvement in Hugh Jackman's upcoming The Greatest Showman on Earth. You moved around a bit when you were younger. Has music always been a big part of your life? I was always inclined to it. From the age of, like, 7 years old, I used to do it all. I sang and I used to make mix tapes — that was the biggest indicator. I used to make mix tapes that were categorized by emotion. I used to make happy tapes and sad tapes and dancing tapes. For me, it was never about who was singing it. It was just about what it made 10
Your vocal style has often been compared to Freddie Mercury. Did you have any pop idols growing up? Never had any idols, ever. I never had any posters, nothing. You had a blank wall? I've always had a blank wall. And as a child, I used to clean it. Most kids stick shit all over the walls. As a kid, I used to clean my walls. My family thought it was so bizarre. The new album is your homage to adolescence. What were you like as a teenager? I was quite introspective. I didn't have the confidence to ever say anything to anybody's face. If you look at most people who are attracted to pop music, they're often outsiders — because the idea of a populist art form that you can create is attractive to someone who is not necessarily popular when they're younger. You’ve described this second album as a “second adolescence.” Can you elaborate on that? It’s the second album that defines what the rest of your career is going to be like.
And when your life changes as much as mine has, especially with the amount of touring I've been doing, the context of what I do has changed â€” and the concept that when you are doing something for the first time, you're doing it out of context. And the second time around, you start competing with yourself. Inevitably, it's like a comingof-age. For this album, you stepped away from storytelling and are writing more in the first person. Was that a big adjustment? For me it was a little bit more difficult, but it was something that I needed to do. I wanted to write about characters and have the ability to write in the first person. But even when I write in the first person, I kind of imagine myself as a cartoon character and write from that perspective. And it helps. It magnifies real life, it simplifies emotion, and it makes things a little more clear. Your songs are quite cinematic. When you write, do you visualize? Massively. Anything written down doesnâ€™t make any sense to me.
I was always doing very badly at school until I came up with a technique of learning everything by tape. So I would record, I would get audiobooks with my textbooks, and I would record lessons and I would learn everything by hearing it. And I would never use any books. And that's when my grades suddenly shot up. Everything I do is very visual and very aural, so I don't read music and I draw as much as I write out lyrics. Speaking of visuals, you're reportedly doing the soundtrack for Hugh Jackman's upcoming PT Barnum musical, The Greatest Showman on Earth. Can you tell us about that? I've been approached by Fox, and I'm still considering it. I would treat it just like writing an album. 11
hough she already played part of the song on last weekend’s “Saturday Night Live” and a demo version made its way onto the Internet late last week, the finished recorded version of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” was finally unveiled on Tuesday at Alexander McQueen’s runway show at Paris Fashion Week. McQueen was debuting his Spring/ Summer 2010 collection for a capacity crowd in the French capital, and though Gaga wasn’t in attendance, her presence was certainly felt, as it was easy to imagine the singer donning one of the strange, lizard-like frocks that paraded down the runway during the 17-minute show. (You can watch a video of the whole spectacle over on McQueen’s site.) “Bad Romance” made its way into the soundtrack at the end of the show, accompanying the encore of all the looks that McQueen had showed off. The models were flocked by two robotic arms carrying cameras and lit in sharp theatrical hues — certainly a performance
LADY GAGA ‘Bad Romance’ Debuts At Alexander McQueen Show
The finished version of "Bad Romance" was produced by RedOne (who was also responsible for her smash hits "Just Dance," "LoveGame" and "Poker Face") and will be available on the re-release of her album The Fame on November 24. The Fame: Monster was supposed to be supported by her co-headlining Fame Kills tour with Kanye West, but since the tour was canceled, Gaga says she'll be hitting the road on her own.
October 5, 2009 / New York (Madison Square Garden)
ink offered something for all her fans Monday night (Oct. 5) at the New York stop of her Funhouse tour. The Las Vegas-worthy show was presented in Madison Square Garden as an adult playground, complete with a rowdy dance troupe, daring acrobatics, appearing and disappearing body parts, and fierce stage presence. And yet, Pink is still one of the few female pop stars who doesn't need spectacle to serve as filler for an arena show. The focal point, from beginning to end, was her voice. She sang live for the entire two-hour set and even while hanging upside-down, impressing the crowd as much as she did during her recent performance of "Sober" while swinging from a trapeze at the MTV VMAs. The audience’s pre-show energy was boosted by English rock duo The Ting Tings, who appeared on this final night of Pink’s North American tour to perform favorites like “That’s Not My Name,” “Great DJ” and “Shut Up and Let Me Go.” Soon enough, the stage lights went purple as Pink arose from the floor, lofted on a wire and belting out a cover of AC/DC’s “Highway To Hell.” From the start, Pink’s confidence was apparent; she looked sharp in a flattering ringmaster costume and her physique was near-perfect, having clearly undergone a serious training regimen for the tour’s Cirque du Soleil-esque routines. Pink kicked off her own catalog with “Bad Influence, which was
staged like an updated version of the "Moulin Rouge"-inspired "Lady Marmalade," then did a quick-change into a leopard-print tunic and skin-tight, metallic red leggings. A strong transition to her 2001 Linda Perry collaboration "Just Like a Pill" found the singer sliding down a ramp and crawling towards the front row of rabid fans, each of whose flailing hands she made sure to touch as she sang. A string of hits followed with several memorable moments. From the opening guitar strums of "Who Knew," the entire audience sang along with Pink's gorgeous vocal, colored by Jessie Green on violin and Stacy Campbell and Jenny Douglas-McRae on background vocals. On "Don't Let Me Get Me," Pink internalized the lyrics and stroked her torso as she sang, “Every day I fight a war against the mirror/I can’t take the person staring back at me.” Now clad in black lingerie, the singer writhed on a red sofa and launched into a hyper-erotic rendition of The Divinyls’ “I Touch Myself.” Multiple arms emerged to grope the singer from head to toe, and the crowd went wild. During the especially enjoyable “Please Don’t Leave Me,” she rumpled guitarist Justin Derrico’s hair and roughed him up a little as she sang, “You’re my perfect little punching bag.” On “U + Ur Hand,” she threw in a crotch grab to punctuate the line, “Lookin’ tight, feelin’ nice, it’s a cockfight,” just before the entire crowd erupted to sing the chorus: “I’m not
here for your entertainment/You don't really wanna mess with me tonight!" An electrifying vocal ensued on “Family Portrait,” another hit from her “M!ssundazstood” album, as Pink was accompanied by only violin and piano. “Sober” found the star dressed in a black sorcerer’s cape as she watched a man and woman perform the trapeze routine she did at the VMAs. It’s one of Pink’s best songs yet, boasting gripping harmonies, riveting lyrics co-written by her and Kara DioGuardi, and her voice at its finest. Towards the end of the set, Pink took on another daunting vocal in Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” for which she sported a yellow military jacket and hat. It wasn’t just the big hits that stood out on the Funhouse tour, though. During an acoustic miniset, Pink sat barefoot on a stool and was held in the same regard as she had been when she was inverted and singing into a headset. Though it didn’t quite fit within the context of the rest of her set, Pink’s statement song, “Dear Mr. President,” was especially wellreceived with its politically charged images of war, poverty and, of course, former U.S. president George W. Bush. When Pink finally touched down, she continued singing with bombast, as though the entire spectacle had been no sweat. If the rest of the show hadn’t already made the case that Pink has one of the best pop-rock voices of her generation of stars, this final moment certainly did.
BEYONCE Wins Two MOBO Awards
British bands JLS and N-Dubz shared the limelight with Beyonce after all three acts won two MOBO awards each. The ceremony celebrates black, urban music. Two of Michael Jackson's siblings also appeared at the MOBO (Music Of Black Origin) prize ceremony in Glasgow last night (Sept. 30), held for the first time outside London this year. The late singer's sister La Toya introduced a musical tribute to Jackson, who died of a prescription drug overdose on June 25, and his brother Jermaine performed. Boy band JLS picked up prizes for best newcomer and best song ("Beat Again") in the public vote, while hip hop act N-Dubz won the best U.K. act and the best album category for "Uncle B." Beyonce, who did not attend, was named best international act and won the best video category for " Single Ladies." London rapper Chipmunk, whose real name is Jahmaal Fyffe, was the surprise winner of the best hip-hop award, beating out U.S. heavyweights Eminem and Kanye West. Following is a list of winners of the main prizes on the night:
Best U.K. Act - N-Dubz Best Newcomer - JLS Best R&B/Soul Act - Keri Hilson Best Hip Hop Act - Chipmunk Best Video - "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)"/ Beyonce Best International Act - Beyonce Best Song - "Beat Again"/JLS Best Album - "Uncle B"/N-Dubz
MICHAEL JACKSON Was Healthy
An autopsy report obtained by The Associated Press shows Michael Jackson was not the sickly skeleton of a man portrayed by tabloids. The report says Jackson's arms were covered with punctures, his face and neck were scarred and he had tattooed eyebrows and lips. But overall he was a fairly healthy 50-year-old. Jackson's 136 pounds were in the acceptable range for a 5-foot-9 man. And his heart was strong. He had some arthritis and his lungs were damaged, which may have left him short of breath. But the report said none of those health issues were life-threatening and that the pop star died from the potent anesthetic his personal physician gave him to sleep. 17
Australian pop star Kylie Minogue kicked off her first-ever American tour with a driving disco beat, a bevy of wellmuscled dancers, and a lot of leg, hoping to finally crack the lucrative U.S. market. The pop diva, no stranger to spectacle, made her first appearance adorned in pink feathers as she was lowered onto the stage from a metallic skull. "Well, good evening -- finally!" exclaimed the 41-yearold Grammy-winning singing, who has never toured the United States before. "All this anticipation -- on my part!" In a fast-paced, two-hour show, Minogue made her way through her international hits, including "Slow," "Spinning Around" and "Wow." But the biggest applause greeted "Can't Get You Out of My Head," her 2001 club hit. The tour, which began Wednesday night in Oakland outside San Francisco, takes Minogue to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, with one stop in Toronto. Minogue first began her career as an actress on the Australian soap opera “Neighbors,” but was catapulted to fame after her 1987 remake of ‘60s hit “Locomotion” hit the top of the charts. Some 10 studio albums have followed and a handful of
movies, giving Minogue mega-star status in Britain, Europe and Asia as well as her native Australia. Minogue was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005 but she returned to performing after recovering from surgery and chemotherapy. In a world tour last year she visited more than 21 countries. Her career also includes a lingerie line, perfumes, linen and a children's book. But the star, who has a wax image of her likeness in Madame Tussauds, has never quite managed to crack the U.S. market, a notion that seemed incomprehensible to one fan.
asked, adding, "Madonna who?" To a constantly shifting set of images projected on a video backdrop -- including some of well-chiseled men in the shower and others working out with gym equipment -- Minogue and her scantily-clad dancers made their way through a series of hits. The singer delivered the sassy fashion she is known for, sporting a host of leg-baring outfits that included silver tunics, black boots, a Nautical cap and a sparkly black leotard. "Kylie's a diva!" gushed Todd Hedgpeth, 39, of San Francisco.
"Americans are stupid, obviously," said Dustin Thornhill, 28, of San Francisco, who was at the show with friend Nicky Bangles, 24. The pair planned to see Minogue again in Los Angeles.
Minogue littlest American fan at the concert may have been Alexis Chiu, 9, who was looking at the T-shirts for sale with her mother, Donna. Why was she at Minogue's first U.S. tour?
"We're stalking her -- sort of," Thornhill said.
"I've liked her since I was a baby," said the youngest Chiu.
Like many in the audience, the two said they were thrilled to finally have the opportunity to see Minogue perform.
"She likes that "Na, na, na" song," explained her mother.
"We're so excited. We've been waiting millions of years," Bangles said, adding that Minogue is an icon to gay men. “She wears outfits that are amazing. What gay man wouldn’t love it?” Bangles 19